Salvation of Little Children

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Salvation means to be saved from spiritual and physical death. Jesus Christ's death and resurrection broke the bands of death for all mankind, and everyone born on the earth will be resurrected. Through His magnificent Atonement, Jesus Christ ransomed mankind and provided salvation to all except those who have a perfect knowledge of Him but reject Him (see Sons of Perdition) and exaltation to those accountable souls who accept Him and follow Him.

Salvation of Children

Latter-day Saints believe that children who die before the age of accountability are saved and exalted through Christ's grace. Some handicapped people never mentally and spiritually reach the age of accountability, and are considered innocent all their mortal lives.

Created In The Image Of God

In the 1995 statement “The Family: A Proclamation To The World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declared that all people are the literal sons and daughters of heavenly parents.

ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents (emphasis added), and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave.[1]

From God's glorious presence, mankind, born on earth, began the mortal journey of gaining a physical body and experiences to return back to God. Jesus Christ's redeeming grace overcame the effects of Adam and Eve's transgression in the Garden of Eden, thus enabling all humans born in the flesh to be innocent and pure. “God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:38). “The Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world” (Moses 6:54). Jesus Christ's Atonement ransomed mankind from the Fall, so that all men and women “will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression” (Article of Faith 2).

Little Children Are Alive In Christ

“Little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 74:7).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie past member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles rejoiced in the doctrine,

Among all the glorious gospel truths given of God to his people there is scarcely a doctrine so sweet, and so soul satisfying, as the one which proclaims—
’’Little children shall be saved. They are alive in Christ and shall have eternal life. For them the family unit will continue, and the fulness of exaltation is theirs. No blessing shall be withheld. They shall rise in immortal glory, grow to full maturity, and live forever in the highest heaven of the celestial kingdom’’—all through the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah, all because of the atoning sacrifice of Him who died that we might live. [2]

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni recorded a letter received from his father Mormon rejecting infant baptism before the age of accountability, by describing how the Savior's redemption negated the need for infant baptism.

Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; . . .
And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children (Moroni 8:7–9).

Because of Christ's atonement, each person is born into this world pure and undefiled. While the child's environment immediately begins to impact his or her learning and outlook, each child begins life unfettered and unencumbered by sin. In fact, the Savior said little children cannot sin until they are accountable. “Behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:46–47).

The Lord identified the age of accountability as eight years old. “And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:27).

Mormon exhorted his son to teach repentance and baptism to “those who are accountable and capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:10) and warned,

He that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.
For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.
Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God (Moroni 8:14–16).

Little Children Who Die Receive Eternal Life

During the Savior's ministry, He often referred to little children as examples of those who inherit the kingdom of God.

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. . . . it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:1–4,10, 14).

Little children do not perish, but are saved from physical and spiritual death in the kingdom of God.

And little children also have eternal life (Mosiah 15:25).
And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven (Doctrine and Covenants 137:10).

Because of the sanctified state of little children who die, they will be resurrected with the just during the first resurrection. Regarding the resurrected state of little children, President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote,

Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: ‘You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.’ There is restitution, there is growth, there is development, after the resurrection from death. I love this truth. It speaks volumes of happiness, of joy and gratitude to my soul. Thank the Lord he has revealed these principles to us” (Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 1919, pp. 455–56).

The Savior's Atonement provided the perfect vehicle for God the Father's love and mercy to redeem and sanctify little children. A child is an heir to the kingdom of God and joint-heir with Christ; “therefore all that my Father hath shall be given him” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:38).